|Cankun Aluminium Recycling Facility, Zhangzhou, China|
|Making Pictures (2005)
The film was put together after returning from an extremely bizarre three week trip in mainland China. In May 2005, I was hired to work as a camera technician on a documentary film about a Canadian fine art photographer who ‘makes pictures’ of massive industrial projects. In that 3 week period our small crew traveled constantly from one alien landscape to another to observe the photographer at work. There was something intense and odd about the exercise that I could not fully articulate in the moment. Something about the contrast between the ‘work’ of the photographer and that of the millions making appearances in his photographs. Though I was thoroughly preoccupied with the job that had brought me to these unbelievable places, I did manage to record tiny fragments of the trip with my own super-8 camera.
Upon returning, I developed the film by hand with a solution that caused the grain to swell dramatically. I made test prints by blowing the original up to 35mm on an optical printer and isolated specific moments through a combination of step printing and freeze framing. What had started out as a simple home movie became something far more complex. Bearing witness to a society immersed in a full scale industrial revolution brought up very difficult questions about the sustainability of our way of life and about the function of art in that context.